Wednesday, February 28, 2024

“I Am No Shrinking Violet”: A Satisfaction Month Essay by Jessye DeSilva


In honor of Satisfaction Month, Atwood Journal has invited artists to take part in a sequence of essays reflecting on id, music, tradition, inclusion, and extra.
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At this time, Boston-based singer/songwriter Jessye DeSilva shares their essay, “I Am No Shrinking Violet,” taking a second to mirror on the connections between femininity and energy in their very own life as part of Atwood Journal’s Satisfaction Month sequence!
Says Jessye, “In a world that so badly desires Queer of us to not exist, holding onto gentleness is a radical act.”
A classically educated vocalist and voice trainer at Berklee School of Music, Jessye (they/them) has an actual knack for mixing theatrical pop parts with the songwriting traditions of people and roots music. Queer and trans empowerment are on the very coronary heart of their new album, which chronicles an ongoing journey to acceptance with instrumentals from fellow LGBTQIA+ artists like Aaron Lee Tasjan, Jake Blount and Ellen Angelico. Jessye will let you know that is the file they wanted as a non-binary, trans child who grew up the kid of a conservative preacher, nevertheless it’s additionally universally relatable with moments of each deep resignation and revitalizing triumph.
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“I AM NO SHRINKING VIOLET”

by Jessye DeSilva

I used to stomp round carrying my mom’s excessive heeled sneakers
Smudged myself in battle paint, fuchsia pink
I discovered to strike ‘em down with one thing quiet and intense
Now inform me little boy, what are you able to do?

I was a bizarre child. All youngsters are bizarre – I feel that’s a lovely factor that society forces them to develop out of a lot too quickly.

I discovered to sing earlier than I discovered to speak. I grew up in a conservative spiritual family, the oldest baby of a preacher, and tales of my early musical prowess have turn into household legend. My mother and father have instructed me again and again how they have been driving after I was a bit of greater than a 12 months previous once they heard the acquainted strains of an previous protestant hymn coming from a tiny voice within the toddler automobile seat behind them.

After I started talking, I developed a passion for making “dolls” out of no matter flora I might get my fingers on. If we went to a restaurant for dinner, they’d give me the little parsley garnish from their plates and I’d amuse myself for hours. My mom would pause from washing dishes on the kitchen window solely to listen to me talking in a tiny, squeaky voice, with fists stuffed with wilted grass and dandelions, creating worlds for my little botanic pals. In an effort to show me to sports activities, I used to be enrolled in a group toddler soccer league the place, to the bemusement of my mother and father, I wandered off the sphere mid-game to sit down within the grass among the many buttercups and clover.

Jessye DeSilva © Will Payne Harrison
Jessye DeSilva © Will Payne Harrison

I’m undecided after I discovered that I used to be bizarre. As I discussed, all youngsters when left to their very own units are pleasant little weirdos – nevertheless as is the case with so many Queer youngsters, I started to deduce from the context clues given to me by my mother and father that I used to be “completely different” from different “boys.” When my Dad’s efforts to curiosity me in brawny, athletic pursuits failed, he started to make use of phrases like “delicate” and “inventive” to explain me. Earlier than he’d entered the ministry he attended artwork school and targeted on sculpture and I had an aunt who’d studied opera, so it wasn’t that inventive pursuits have been in any respect discouraged in my household. Nevertheless, I had the sense early on that these phrases have been well mannered stand-ins for one thing else – one thing I didn’t fairly have the phrases for but.

The god of Eighties fundamentalist christians was an offended one. A masculine father determine with a agency hand, who confirmed his “love” via corporeal punishment. The god I grew to become acquainted with was much less the common-or-garden, radical prophet of the New Testomony, and extra the vengeful, indifferent, perpetually offended god of the Outdated Testomony (as translated via a decidedly white European, Imperialist lens). On the top of the Satanic Panic, my “female” pursuits in magic, nature, and witches was not solely dangerously Queer-coded, but additionally teetered on the sting of sacrilege.

Nonetheless, one thing in my father’s eyes all the time appeared a bit of unhappy when he’d reprimand and even gently “right” me for my shortcomings. It was as if even this athletic, straight, Christian, cisgender man, who appeared to have all of it within the eyes of “correct” center America had been wounded by the softer components of himself he’d been taught to tamp down.

Jessye DeSilva © Emma Delevante
Jessye DeSilva © Emma Delevante

I knew all alongside I wasn’t a boy.

A minimum of not by the requirements the world round me set for boyhood. In my most liberated, unadulterated moments of joyful play, earlier than I’d totally developed a way of my very own embodiment, I felt lithe and sleek. I might sense a protracted, flowing mane of curls trailing behind me within the breeze, like a phantom limb. Even at a time of deeply entrenched gender norms and societal misogyny, I noticed femininity as a deeply religious and robust factor, and I coveted the power to embody and personal it myself. Though I used to be instructed otherwise by the authority figures in my life, I knew the ability of femininity as gospel fact and like Mary within the Christmas story, I “saved all these items, and contemplated them in [my] coronary heart.”

After all of the years of labor and reconciliation I’ve accomplished with myself, my household, my world, I’ve come to the place the place I can see my very own softness as a superpower. Gentleness isn’t weak point. Magnificence may be armor. My squishy bits, rounded edges, and vulnerability are to not be trifled with. – Jessye DeSilva

I is usually a type of a flight threat
A little bit of a spender with my belief
However I’m a symphony of colour, sound, and light-weight
Slightly too sentimental
A bleeding coronary heart, for those who should
However for those who cross me I’m not above a struggle
 
Lyric excerpts from “Firecracker” by Jessye DeSilva

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? © Emma Delevante

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